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Steve Richards Named 2018 Distinguished Alumnus

Steve Richards (right) receives the 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Erik Westman, Department Head.

The department is honored to name Steve Richards, Carlson Software’s Director of Mining Sales and graduate of the Class of 1975, as its 2018 Distinguished Alumnus.

Steve was recognized at the VT Mining and Minerals Engineering Reception during the SME Annual Conference and Expo in Minneapolis. “I consider it a great an unexpected honor to be included in the group of Distinguished Alumni for the Mining and Minerals Engineering Department at Virginia Tech,” noted Steve upon accepting the honor. “Virginia Tech is still delivering a quality education in mining, and we as a nation will continue to need mined resources.”

Steve is a 1975 graduate of Virginia Tech’s Mining and Minerals Engineering department. In addition to his undergraduate degree, he received an M.S. in Engineering Management from the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies (now Marshall University) in 1985 and an MBA from the University of Charleston in 1988. Steve is also a licensed Professional Engineer in West Virginia and Kentucky as well as a former licensed Professional Surveyor for the state of West Virginia.

Steve has been actively involved in the mining industry since his graduation from the program and beginning with his time at the Bethlehem Mines Corporation, where he served as foreman, assistant to the superintendent and senior mine planning engineer. His expertise as a mine-planning engineer would serve him as he went on to work at the Island Creek Coal, Zeigler Coal Holding, and Markford Coal companies.

Since 1997 Steve has been the Director of Mining Sales for Carlson Software—a world leader in specialized CAD design software used in surveying, civil engineering, construction and the mining industries. It is perhaps in this role that Steve has made significant contributions to the department and its program.

At Carlson, Steve established the National Senior Mine Design Competition for ABET accredited universities and mining programs. In this event, students have the opportunity to research, plan, and design a mine project which is submitted to Carlson for judging. The winning project receives $2,000, the 2nd place project receives $1,000, and the 3rd place project receives $500. Students are awarded a certificate documenting the achievement, and each school has a running plaque that is updated by Carlson Software. Virginia Tech’s graduating mining engineering seniors participate in the competition each year, submitting the final draft of their capstone project: the Senior Design Project.

In addition to his work for the design competition at Carlson, Steve was instrumental in establishing a dominant market position for US mine planning software and conducts business with customers from 6 continents and has provided training for over 900 individuals.

A 42-year member of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), Steve has served on numerous committees and chairs to include the Erskine Ramsey/Medal, the SME/CAS Advisory Board, and the SME Boy Scout Merit Badge. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Mining, the Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the International Society of Explosives Engineers.

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